EVANSVILLE – Sharing food and drink is a way to bring people closer together, a symbol of hospitality and brotherhood all over the world.
Every year on the first Sunday in October, the Islamic Society of Evansville welcomes area residents in for a home-cooked feast of dishes from countries where its members originate – Syria and Lebanon, Pakistan and India, all the countries from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Himalayas.
The proceeds of the International Food Festival fundraiser go to benefit the Tri-State Food Bank, ensuring even more people have the opportunity to sit down to a full table with friends.
The food festival originated in the year after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, when the Islamic Society felt it was important for Americans to be able to interact with local Muslims, tour the Islamic Center, and ask questions about Islam and the Koran. You can still do all of that.
After your meal and a tour of the growing facility, shop at the international bazaar, have your hands painted with a traditional henna design, and, if you like the dishes, the third edition of the Women of the Islamic Society of Evansville’s cookbook, “From our Table to Yours” will be available with new and updated recipes for $10.
What's on the menu?
Here’s a glossary of all the dishes so you’ll know exactly what to expect. Menu items are priced between $1 for pita bread and $5 for a full falafel sandwich.
Chicken Biryani- A mildly seasoned rice pilaf with long, delicate grains of basmati rice and pieces of tender chicken. $4, gluten free.
Pilau – A vegan rice pilaf with long, delicate basmati rice, mild spices, and mixed sauteed vegetables. $3, gluten free, vegan.
Butter Chicken – A rich Indian and Pakistani chicken stew in a creamy tomato sauce with mild spices. $4, gluten free.
Tandoori Chicken – Chicken tenders marinated in a traditional bright orange, tasty spice mix then cooked on a hot grill. $3, gluten free.
Beef Shish Kebab – Ground beef “sausages” blended with onion, parsley and savory spices shaped and broiled to serve. $4, gluten free.
Falafel sandwich – Chick peas ground with flavorful mild spices and shaped into small patties, fried until crisp. Served in a pita bread sandwich with sesame tahini sauce and yogurt. $5, vegetarian. Falafel by the piece, $1.
Bhel Puri – A salad of boiled potatoes with tomato, onion, chickpeas and crunchy Indian rice and nut blend topped with tangy chutney. $4, vegan.
Pakora – Vegetables dipped in a spiced batter made with chick pea flour, fried until crunchy. $3, vegan.
Fatayer – Soft bread pastries filled with your choice of spinach and onion; or olive, cream cheese, onion and green pepper. $3, vegetarian.
Grape Leaves – Real grape vine leaves hand rolled with a stuffing of rice, tomato, onion, parsley and spices then steamed to cook. $2, gluten free, vegan.
Spring Rolls – Crunchy fried spring rolls with a shredded vegetable filling of cabbage, carrots and more. $2, vegan.
Jerusalem Salad – A chopped salad of cucumber, tomato, onion and herbs with a lemon and olive oil dressing. $2, vegan.
Hummus – A traditional savory dip made of chick peas blended with tahini sesame paste, lemon juice and garlic, served with pita bread for dipping. $2, vegan.
Muttabal – A dip of roasted pureed eggplant, sesame tahini paste, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic served with pita bread for dipping. - $2, vegetarian.
Samosa – A flour round stuffed with a spiced potato and vegetable filling, deep fried until crisp. $3, vegan.
Pita Bread – A flat bread used for scooping dips or wrapping sandwiches. $1 for a whole piece, vegan.
Baklava – Thin sheets of phyllo pastry layered with butter, with a center layer of walnuts and sugar, baked until crisp and covered in syrup. $2, Vegetarian.
Basboosa – A square of dense, sweet semolina flour cake soaked in syrup and topped with an almond. $2, Vegetarian.
Kanafa – Thin strands of pastry dough baked with a custard filling and covered with sweet syrup. $2, Vegetarian.
Gulab Jaman – Round balls of fried dairy-enriched dough swimming in sweet syrup. $2, vegetarian.
Ma’amoul – A buttery shortbread cookie filled with a sweet date paste, formed with a special Middle Eastern tool. $2, vegetarian.
Brownies – Good old chocolate American brownies. $2, vegetarian.
Date Cakes – Homemade round pastries topped with sesame seeds, filled with a cinnamon spiced date mixture. $2, vegetarian.
Mango Ice – Sweet mango fruit blended with sugar and ice. $2, vegan, gluten free.
Water, soda - $1
Hot coffee, chai tea - $2
The Islamic Society of Evansville’s 20th Annual International Food Festival
When: Sunday, Oct.1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: 4200 Grimm Road, Newburgh, Indiana
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Islamic Society of Evansville's International Food Festival is Sunday, Oct. 1